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Full text of "My Country And My People"

IDEALS    OF    LIFE                         117

village matters and annual celebrations. Its monks and nuns
penetrate the privacies of Chinese households, on all occasions
of births, deaths and weddings, as no other persons are allowed
to do, and hardly a widow or virgin can be seduced, according
to the Chinese novels, without the help of these religious figures.

Buddhism, in short, means to the Chinese people what
religion means to people in other countries, namely, something
that comes to the rescue when human reason falters or fails.
In modern China Buddhist monks are more popular than
Taoist monks and for every Taoist temple (kuan) there are ten
Buddhist temples (miao) to be found. As late as 1933-4 the
Panchen Lama of Thibet sprinkled holy water over tens of
thousands of people in Peiping and Nanking, including high
government personages like Tuan Ch'ijui and Tai Chit'ao, and
was royally entertained by the Central and local govern-
ments in Nanking, Shanghai, Hangchow and Canton. As
late as May, 1934, Nola Kotuhutu, another Thibetan lama,
as official guest of the Canton Government, publicly declared
his ability to protect people against poison gas by incantations,
and actually was able to influence a certain general to change
the position of his guns at this fort through his superior know-
ledge of astrology and necromancy. Their influence would
not be so great if the Chinese could see a clear way to repel
Japanese attacks by modern military science. The Chinese
reason here falters, and therefore turns to religion. Since the
Chinese army cannot help the Chinese, they are willing to be
helped by Buddha.

Buddhism has conquered China as a philosophy and as a
religion, as a philosophy for the scholars and as a religion for
the common people. Whereas Confucianism has only a philo-
sophy of moral conduct, Buddhism possesses a logical method,
a metaphysics, and a theory of knowledge. Besides, it is
fortunate in having a high tradition of scholarship in the trans-
lations of Buddhist classics, and the language of these trans-
lations, so succinct and often so distinguished by a beautiful
lucidity of language and reasoning, cannot but attract scholars
with a philosophical bias. Hence Buddhism has always enjoyed
a prestige among the Chinese scholars, which so far Christianity
has failed to achieve.